Public Meetings Scheduled re Proposed Holtec Consolidated Interim Spent Fuel Facility in New Mexico

On April 9, 2018, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced that the agency is seeking public comment on the scope of its environmental review of Holtec International’s application for a license to construct and operate a consolidated interim spent fuel storage facility in Lea County, New Mexico.  NRC staff will hold a series of public meetings in late April and early May to describe the review process and take public comments.

Overview

According to the license application, Holtec is seeking to store up to 8,680 metric tons of uranium in commercial spent fuel in the Holtec International Storage Module Underground “MAXimum” Capacity (HI-STORM UMAX) Storage System for a 40-year license term.  The subterranean used nuclear fuel storage system has a maximum storage capacity of 10,000 canisters.  The initial license application is for 500 storage cavities.  The NRC previously certified HI-STORM UMAX in Docket number 72-1040.

“Engineered over a decade ago and licensed by the NRC in 2015, HI-STORM UMAX is physically sized to store all of the used nuclear fuel produced in the U.S. and all canisters currently licensed in dry storage in the country making it a truly universal used fuel storage facility,” states Holtec.  “Already deployed at multiple nuclear power plants around the U.S. …, the HI-STORM UMAX stores the stainless steel canister containing the spent fuel or high-level waste entirely below-ground to serve as a ‘security-friendly’ storage facility, providing a clear, unobstructed view of the entire CISF from any location.  HI-STORE CIS is envisioned to unify the storage of all different storage canisters (both vertically and horizontally stored) in one standardized HI-STORM UMAX cavity system simplifying operations and aging management activities.”

“Storing the Nation’s used nuclear fuel in the HI-STORM UMAX system is a temporary measure, as the stainless-steel canisters are easily retrievable and ready for transport pending the determination of a safe permanent solution for managing used nuclear materials.,” continues Holtec.  “The canisters are designed, qualified, and tested to survive and prevent the release of radioactive material under the most adverse accident scenarios postulated by NRC regulations for both storage and transportation.”

Holtec is using its own funds to support the licensing action.  According to Holtec, the project has “the enthusiastic support of nuclear-savvy communities in southeastern New Mexico incorporated as the Eddy Lea Energy Alliance (ELEA), LLC.”  If the initial application is approved, Holtec plans to make supplemental submittals to incorporate the various canister types being used in the industry.

The Holtec application and other documents related to the NRC’s review are available on the NRC website at www.nrc.gov.

Public Comment

On April 25, 2018, NRC will hold the first “scoping” meeting at the agency’s headquarters in Rockville, Maryland.  The meeting is scheduled from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. ET.  There will also be a webinar so people unable to attend in person may follow the meeting.  Interested stakeholders may participate in the meeting via webinar at

https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/7824864004787186434.

NRC staff will also hold three meetings in New Mexico as follows:

  • April 30, 2018 from 4:00 – 7:00 p.m. MT at the Eastern New Mexico University- Roswell, Campus Union Building, Multi-Purpose Room 110, which is located at 48 University Boulevard in Roswell;
  • May 1, 2018 from 7:00 – 10:00 p.m. MT at the
Lea County Event Center, which is located at 5101 N. Lovingston Highway in Hobbs; and,
  • May 3, 2018 from 7:00 – 10:00 p.m. MT at the Eddy County Fire Service, which is located at 1400 Commerce Drive in Carlsbad.

The first meeting will be an open house and poster session.  The other two meetings will be full scoping meetings.  NRC staff members will hold an open house one hour before each of the Hobbs and Carlsbad meetings to meet informally with members of the public.  A court reporter will be available to record comments at all locations.  Spanish-speaking staff will be available at the New Mexico meetings to assist with translation.

Background

Holtec submitted its application on March 30, 2017.  The NRC formally docketed the application on February 28, 2018.  On March 30, 2018, NRC published a Federal Register notice requesting public comments on the scope of its environmental review.  (See 83 Federal Register 13,802 dated March 30, 2018.)  Comments will be accepted through May 29, 2018.  On April 6, 2018, NRC published a separate notice about the public meetings.  (See 83 Federal Register 14,897 dated April 6, 2018.)

For additional information, please contact , please contact Erika Grandrimo of Holtec at (856) 797-0090 ext. 3920 or at e.grandrimo@holtec.com or David McIntyre of the NRC at (301) 415-8200.

NRC Seeks Public Comment re Development of Regulatory Basis for Alternative Means of Disposal of GTCC and Transuranic Waste

On February 14, 2018, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued a Federal Register notice announcing that the agency is seeking stakeholder participation and involvement in identifying the various technical issues that should be considered in the development of a regulatory basis for the disposal of Greater-than-Class C (GTCC) and transuranic radioactive waste through means other than a deep geologic disposal, including near surface disposal.  (See 83 Federal Register 6,475 dated February 14, 2018.)

As part of the process, the NRC is requesting that interested stakeholders respond to specific questions contained in the Federal Register notice.  Comments are due by April 16, 2018.  Comments considered after this date will be considered if it is practical to do so, but the NRC is only able to ensure consideration of comments received on or before the deadline.

Specific Request for Comment

The NRC is seeking stakeholder participation and involvement in identifying the various technical issues that should be considered in the development of a draft regulatory basis for the disposal of GTCC and transuranic radioactive waste through means other than a deep geologic disposal, including near surface disposal.  To assist in this process, the NRC staff is requesting that interested stakeholders respond to the questions below.  In addition, the NRC staff has conducted some initial technical analyses to assist its understanding of potential hazards with near surface disposal of GTCC and transuranic wastes, which are contained in draft “NRC Staff Analyses Identifying Potential Issues Associated with the Disposal of Greater-Than-Class C Low- Level Radioactive Waste.”  The draft analyses should assist in providing responses to the following questions:

  1. What are the important radionuclides that need to be considered for the disposal of the GTCC and transuranic wastes?

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has described three broad categories of GTCC wastes, including a range of transuranic radionuclides, in its “Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Disposal of Greater-than-Class C (GTCC) Low-Level Radioactive Waste and GTCC-Like Waste.”  (See LLW Notes, November/December 2017, pp. 1, 23-28.)  The three categories are entitled activated metals, sealed sources and other wastes.  The attributes (i.e., radionuclide concentrations, heat generation, and waste form) vary significantly between the three categories.  Certain waste streams represent a very specific waste form (i.e., stainless steel for most activated metals; very concentrated amounts in sealed sources) that may require specific treatment to mitigate potential safety, security and criticality concerns.  Some waste streams may contain sufficient quantities of specific radionuclides that will present a significant thermal output and/or gas generation through radiolysis.  Still other waste streams may contain a significant quantity of fissile radionuclides (i.e., some isotopes of uranium and plutonium).  The NRC is interested in identifying those radionuclides that could be important for evaluating the safety and security of storage associated with the operational period at a disposal facility and the post-closure period (including inadvertent intruder protection).  Additionally, the NRC is interested in obtaining available data and information to support the characteristics of GTCC and transuranic wastes.

  1. How might GTCC and transuranic wastes affect the safety and security of a disposal facility during operations (i.e., pre-closure period)?

The presence of sufficient quantities of high activity radionuclides and/or fissile radionuclides in GTCC and transuranic wastes may impact the design and operational activities associated with a disposal facility prior to disposal.  The NRC is interested in identifying those design and operational activities at a disposal facility that may be impacted by GTCC and transuranic wastes.  For example, the requirements in 10 CFR Part 73 would require licensees to develop safeguards systems to protect against acts of radiological sabotage and to prevent the theft or diversion of Special Nuclear Material (i.e., transuranic waste such as plutonium, uranium-233 or uranium enriched in the isotopes uranium-233 or uranium-235) if a sufficient amount of Special Nuclear Material were present above ground at the disposal facility. 

  1. How might GTCC and transuranic wastes affect disposal facility design for post-closure safety including protection of an inadvertent intruder?

The NRC is considering disposal units (i.e., a single trench, borehole, and vault) that would contain a single category of waste (i.e., sealed sources) as well as disposal units that contain a mixture of all three waste types.  However, the NRC believes the best approach for understanding the issues would be to assume that waste within a disposal unit would be separated by the waste category and not be co-mingled.  Such an approach could provide a clear understanding of the issues associated with how a specific waste category might affect disposal facility design.  Certain waste streams associated with GTCC and transuranic wastes have larger inventories and concentrations of radionuclides than was typically considered at low-level radioactive waste disposal facilities.  For example, certain GTCC and transuranic wastes in sufficient quantities have the potential for significant thermal output that could affect degradation processes within a disposal unit and hydrogen gas generation through radiolysis that could also affect degradation processes of the waste package and waste form.  Additionally, waste streams associated with GTCC and transuranic wastes may have fissile materials that require facilities to be designed to limit the potential for a criticality event or limit the amount of fissile material that can be disposed.  There is a potential balance between security/safety and economic feasibility of design, construction and operation.  The NRC would like to hear from the stakeholders on these aspects as well.  The information provided on economic feasibility would be in concert with the NRC’s strategies on examining the cumulative effects of potential regulatory actions.  The NRC is interested in identifying the various scenarios that should be considered in evaluating the post-closure safety for the disposal of GTCC and transuranic waste—especially scenarios associated with specific issues and concerns that may not have been previously considered for commercial disposal facilities (i.e., synergistic effects of the thermal output on geochemical processes affecting release of radionuclides).

Submitting Comments

Interested stakeholders may submit comments by any of the following methods:

  •   Email Comments to:  Email comments to Rulemaking.Comments@nrc.gov.  If you do not receive an automatic email reply confirming receipt, then contact the NRC at (301) 415-1677.
  •   Fax comments to:  Fax comments to Secretary, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, at (301) 415-1101.
  •   Mail comments to:  Mail comments to Secretary, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555– 0001, ATTN: Rulemakings and Adjudications Staff.
  •   Hand deliver comments to:  Comments may be hand delivered to the NRC at 11555 Rockville Pike, Rockville, Maryland 20852 between 7:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.

Interested stakeholders are reminded to please include Docket ID NRC 2017-0081 in the subject line of any comment submission.

Background

 

The NRC’s “Licensing Requirements for Land Disposal of Radioactive Waste” are provided in 10 CFR Part 61.  Section 10 CFR 61.2, “Definitions,” provides that waste as used in Part 61 means those low-level radioactive wastes containing source, special nuclear or byproduct material that are acceptable for disposal in a land disposal facility.  The definition also indicates that low- level radioactive waste means radioactive waste not classified as high-level radioactive waste, transuranic waste, spent nuclear fuel or byproduct material as defined in paragraphs (2), (3), and (4) of the definition of byproduct material in § 20.1003.

The Statements of Consideration (SOC) for the 10 CFR Part 61 proposed rule explained that not all waste may be suitable for disposal in the near surface.  Specifically, Section IV, “Purpose and Scope,” of the SOC indicates that, while 10 CFR Part 61 was intended to deal with the disposal of most low-level radioactive waste defined by the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Policy Act, the 10 CFR Part 61 waste classification system identified some low-level radioactive wastes that are not suitable for disposal under its regulatory framework, and alternative methods would have to be used.

In § 61.55, “Waste classification,” the NRC developed a classification system for waste for near surface disposal, which categorizes waste as Class A, B or C.  This provision also describes waste that is not generally acceptable for near-surface disposal, whose disposal methods must be more stringent than those specified for Class C waste.  This waste is referred to as GTCC waste.

Nuclear power reactors, facilities supporting the nuclear fuel cycle and other facilities and licensees outside of the nuclear fuel cycle generate the GTCC waste.  This class of wastes include:

  • plutonium- contaminated nuclear fuel cycle wastes;
  • activated metals;
  • sealed sources; and,
  • radioisotope product manufacturing wastes – i.e., wastes “occasionally generated as part of manufacture of sealed sources, radiopharmaceutical products and other materials used for industrial, education, and medical applications.”

Transuranic waste is not included in the § 61.2 definition of low-level radioactive waste.  In a 1988 amendment to the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended, a definition for transuranic was added.  Transuranic waste is defined as “material contaminated with elements that have an atomic number greater than 92, including neptunium, plutonium, americium, and curium, and that are in concentrations greater than 10 nanocuries per gram [(nCi/g)], or in such other concentrations as the [U.S.] Nuclear Regulatory Commission may prescribe to protect the public health and safety.”  Transuranic waste is a byproduct of nuclear research and power production and is primarily produced from spent fuel recycling, medical isotope production or nuclear weapons fabrication.  The waste may consist of rags, tools and laboratory equipment contaminated with organic and inorganic residues.

The identification and evaluation of regulatory concerns associated with land disposal of GTCC and transuranic waste will largely depend on the characteristics of the wastes – i.e., isotopes; concentrations and volumes of waste; and, physical and chemical properties.  The variable characteristics of the waste can influence the decision regarding the appropriate regulatory approach to use for management and disposal of these wastes.  Overly conservative assumptions for the inventory and characteristics could significantly limit disposal options, whereas, overly optimistic assumptions with respect to characteristics could lead to a disposal facility that may not provide adequate protection of public health and safety and security.

For additional information, please contact Cardelia Maupin of the NRC’s Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards (NMSS) at (301) 415–4127 or at Cardelia.Maupin@nrc.gov.

NRC to Conduct Very Low-Level Radioactive Waste Scoping Study

On February 14, 2018, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued a Federal Register notice announcing the agency’s plans to conduct a very low-level radioactive waste (VLLW) scoping study to identify possible options to improve and strengthen the NRC’s regulatory framework for the disposal of the anticipated large volumes of VLLW associated with the decommissioning of nuclear power plants and material sites, as well as waste that might be generated by alternative waste streams that may be created by operating reprocessing facilities or a radiological event.  (See 83 Federal Register 6,619 dated February 14, 2018.)

As part of the process, the NRC is seeking stakeholder input and perspectives.  Respondents are asked to consider specific questions posed by the NRC staff and other federal agencies in the Federal Register notice.  Comments are due by May 15, 2018.  Comments considered after this date will be considered if it is practical to do so, but the NRC is only able to ensure consideration of comments received on or before the deadline.

Specific Request for Comment

The NRC is interested in receiving comments from a broad range of stakeholders including professional organizations, licensees, Agreement States and members of the public.  Likewise, interested stakeholders with insight into relevant international initiatives are invited to provide their perspectives regarding international best practices related to VLLW disposal or other experiences that the NRC staff should consider.  All comments will be considered and the results of the scoping study will be documented in a publicly available report, which will inform the Commission of the staff’s recommendation for addressing VLLW disposal.

All comments that are to receive consideration in the VLLW Scoping Study must be submitted electronically or in writing.  Respondents are asked to consider the background material (see below) when preparing their comments.  In responding, commenters are encouraged to provide specific suggestions and the basis for suggestions offered.  Specifically, the NRC staff requests comment on the following questions:

  1. The United States does not have a formal regulatory definition of VLLW. What should the NRC consider in developing its own regulatory definition for VLLW?  Is there another definition of VLLW that should be considered?  Provide a basis for your response.
  1. The existing regulatory framework within 10 CFR 61.55 divides low-level radioactive waste into four categories: Class A, Class B, Class C, and GTCC. Should the NRC revise the waste classification system to establish a new category for VLLW?  What criteria should NRC consider in establishing the boundary between Class A and VLLW categories?
  1. The NRC’s alternative disposal request guidance entitled, ‘‘Review, Approval, and Documentation of Low- Activity Waste Disposals in Accordance with 10 CFR 20.2002 and 10 CFR 40.13(a),’’ which is undergoing a revision, allows for alternative disposal methods that are different from those already defined in the regulations and is most often used for burial of waste in hazardous or solid waste landfills permitted under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). Should the NRC expand the existing guidance to include VLLW disposal or consider the development of a new guidance for VLLW disposal?  Why or why not?
  1. If the NRC were to create a new waste category for VLLW in 10 CFR Part 61, what potential compatibility issues related to the approval of VLLW disposal by NRC Agreement States need to be considered and addressed? How might defining VLLW affect NRC Agreement State regulatory programs in terms of additional responsibilities or resources?
  1. Following the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Policy Amendments Act of 1985, states formed regional compacts for the disposal of low-level radioactive waste. If the NRC were to create a new waste category for VLLW, does it fall within regional compact authority to control VLLW management and disposal?  How might defining VLLW affect regional compacts in terms of additional responsibilities or resources?
  1. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-imposed waste analysis requirements for facilities that generate, treat, store and dispose of hazardous wastes are defined in 40 CFR Parts 264 through 270. How would NRC incorporate and apply waste analysis requirements for VLLW at RCRA Subtitle C and D facilities?  Should the NRC impose concentration limits and/or treatment standards for VLLW disposal?
  1. Are there any unintended consequences associated with developing a VLLW waste category?
  1. What analytical methods/tools should be used to assess the risk of disposing of VLLW at licensed low-level radioactive waste disposal facilities or RCRA Subtitle C and D facilities — i.e., generic or site- specific?
  1. How should economic factors be considered in the VLLW scoping study?

Submitting Comments

Interested stakeholders may submit comments by any of the following methods:

  •   Mail comments to:  May Ma, Office of Administration, Mail Stop: OWFN–2– A13, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555– 0001.

Background

In 2007, following developments in the national program for low-level radioactive waste disposal, as well as changes in the regulatory environment, the NRC conducted a strategic assessment of its regulatory program for low-level radioactive waste.  The results of this assessment were published in late 2007 in SECY–07–0180, “Strategic Assessment of Low-Level Radioactive Waste Regulatory Program.”  The strategic assessment identified the need to coordinate with other agencies on consistency in regulating low activity waste (LAW) disposal and to develop guidance that summarizes disposition options for low-end materials and waste.

In 2016, the NRC staff conducted a programmatic assessment of the low-level radioactive waste program to identify and prioritize tasks that the NRC could undertake to ensure a stable, reliable and adaptable regulatory framework for effective low-level radioactive waste management.  The results of this assessment were published in October 2016 in SECY–16–0118, “Programmatic Assessment of Low-Level Radioactive Waste Regulatory Program.”  The programmatic assessment identified the need to perform a LAW scoping study as a medium priority.

In International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Safety Guide No. GSG– 1, “Classification of Radioactive Waste,” the IAEA defines VLLW as waste that does not meet the criteria of exempt waste, but does not need a high level of containment and isolation and is therefore suitable for disposal in a near surface landfill type facility with limited regulatory control.  The NRC currently does not have a formal regulatory definition for VLLW, nor has it adopted the IAEA definition.  However, the NRC uses the term VLLW consistent with the international regulatory structure.  In general, the NRC considers VLLW as material containing some residual radioactivity, including naturally occurring radionuclides that may be safely disposed of in hazardous or municipal solid waste landfills.

The LAW scoping study, which was later renamed the VLLW scoping study, will combine several tasks initially defined in the 2007 strategic assessment into one. These tasks include:

  • coordinating with other agencies on consistency in regulating LAW;
  • developing guidance that summarizes disposition options for low-end materials and waste; and,
  • promulgating a rule for disposal of LAW.

As part of the scoping study, the NRC will also evaluate regulatory options that would define the conditions under which LAW, including mixed waste, could be disposed of in Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Subtitle C hazardous waste facilities.

Consistent with SECY–16–0118, the NRC is conducting this VLLW Scoping Study, which will consider disposal of waste as defined by 10 CFR Part 61 as the isolation, by emplacement in a land disposal facility, of radioactive wastes from the biosphere that is inhabited by man and that contains his food chains.  As such, the scoping study will not address non-disposal related disposition pathways including unrestricted release, clearance, reuse or recycle of materials.

The purpose of the VLLW scoping study is to identify possible options to improve and strengthen the NRC’s regulatory framework for the disposal of the anticipated large volumes of VLLW associated with the decommissioning of nuclear power plants and waste that might be generated by alternative waste streams that may be created by fuel reprocessing or a radiological event.  Additionally, the NRC plans to evaluate regulatory options that could define the conditions under which VLLW, including mixed waste, could be disposed of in RCRA hazardous waste facilities.

For additional information, please contact Maurice Heath of the NRC’s Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards (NMSS) at (301) 415–3137 or at Maurice.Heath@nrc.gov.

NRC Extends Comment Period re Part 61 Draft Regulatory Analysis

On November 24, 2017, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) published a Federal Register notice reopening and extending the public comment period on the draft regulatory analysis, “Draft Regulatory Analysis for Final Rule: Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal.”  Among other things, the draft regulatory analysis seeks specific cost and benefit information to better inform the updated draft regulatory analysis.  (See 82 Federal Register 48,283 dated October 17, 2017.)

The comment period originally closed on November 16, 2017.  In order to allow more time for members of the public to develop and submit their comments, however, the NRC decided to reopen and extend the public comment period until December 18, 2017.

The Part 61 Working Group (P61WG) of the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Forum (LLW Forum), the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SC DHEC) and the Utah Department of Environmental Quality’s Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control (Utah DEQ DWMRC) previously submitted comments on the draft regulatory analysis.

The Federal Register notice requesting public comment on the draft regulatory analysis is available at https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/10/17/2017-22459/low-level-radioactive-waste-disposal. 

Comment letters from the P61WG, South Carolina and Utah regarding the draft regulatory analysis are available on the Resources Page of the Part 61 Working Group (P61WG) website at http://part-61.org/resources/. 

For additional information, please contact Gregory Trussell, Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, at (301) 415-6445 or at Gregory.Trussell@nrc.gov.

Comment Period Opens re Guidance Document for Alternative Disposal Requests

On October 19, 2017, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) published a notice in the Federal Register requesting comment on the draft revision to its guidance document for alternative disposal requests entitled, “Guidance for the Reviews of Proposed Disposal Procedures and Transfers of Radioactive Material Under 10 CFR 20.2002 and 10 CFR 40.13(a).”  (See 82 Federal Register 48,727 dated October 19, 2017.)

The Federal Register notice regarding the draft revision to the NRC guidance document for alternative disposal requests is available at https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2017-10-19/pdf/2017-22694.pdf.

Purpose  The purpose of the referenced document and associated procedure is to provide guidance for NRC staff and describe the process for documenting, reviewing, and approving (on a case-by- case basis) requests received from licensees, license applicants and other entities for alternative disposal of licensed material.  The staff may authorize these requests under the provisions of Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR) 20.2002 and 10 CFR 40.13(a).

Scope  The procedure covers the steps that NRC staff need to take in order to review, document, and approve a request for alternative disposal of licensed material, including:

  •   entering documents into the NRC public document system, which is known as the Agency-Wide Documents Access and Management System (ADAMS);
  •   establishing an Enterprise Project Identifier (EPID) and/or Cost Activity Code (CAC) for 
monitoring time charged to the project;
  •   conducting a technical review of the disposal request, including performing dose 
assessments;
  •   preparing a Safety Evaluation Report (SER) or Technical Evaluation Report (TER);
  •   preparing an Environmental Assessment (EA);
  •   coordinating with state regulatory agencies and disposal site operators;
  •   implementing a Communications Plan, where applicable, including conducting public 
meetings; and,
  •   implementing the approaches included within the All Agreement States Letter.

Although § 20.2002 and § 40.13(a) reviews are similar in most respects, there are a few differences that are described in the document.  Where there are differences between the procedures for handling the different types of requests, a sub-section for each type of request is 
provided.  Otherwise, they will be referred to collectively as ADRs.

The procedure does not cover all releases of solid materials from a licensee’s control, only those that are submitted for NRC approval under 10 CFR 20.2002 and 10 CFR 40.13(a).  The NRC’s procedures for release of solid materials are described in NUREG-1757, Volume 1, Rev. 2, Section 15.11.

Submitting Comments  Comments are due by December 18, 2017.  Comments received after this date will be considered if it is practical to do so, but the NRC is able to assure consideration only for comments received on or before this date.

Interested stakeholders may submit comments by any of the following methods:

  •   Federal Rulemaking Web Site:  Go to http://www.regulations.gov and search for Docket ID NRC-2017-0198.
  •   Mail comments to:  May Ma, Office of Administration, Mail Stop: OWFN-2-A13, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001.

Docket ID NRC-2017-0198 should be referenced when submitting comments.

For additional information, please contact Robert Lee Gladney, Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, at (301) 415-1022 or Robert.Gladney@nrc.gov.

NRC Seeks Public re Draft Regulatory Analysis for Final Part 61 Rule

Specific Cost and Benefit Information Requested

On October 17, 2017, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) published a Federal Register notice requesting comment on the draft regulatory analysis, “Draft Regulatory Analysis for Final Rule: Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal,” and seeking specific cost and benefit information to better inform the updated draft regulatory analysis.  (See 82 Federal Register 48,283 dated October 17, 2017.)

The Federal Register notice regarding the draft regulatory analysis for the final Part 61 rule is available at https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/10/17/2017-22459/low-level-radioactive-waste-disposal.

Discussion  In addition to specified rule language changes, the Commission, in SRM-SECY-16-0106, also directed the NRC staff to “be informed by broader and more fully integrated, but reasonably foreseeable costs and benefits to the U.S. waste disposal system resulting from the proposed rule changes, including pass -through costs to waste generators and processors.”  To support development of the new supplemental proposed rule as directed by the Commission in SRM-SECY-16-0106, the NRC staff is seeking comment on how to improve the approach/methodology and actual cost data currently used in the draft final rule regulatory analysis to provide more accurate cost and benefit data in the final regulatory analysis.  In particular, the NRC is seeking information on any cost changes that should be incorporated into the regulatory analysis in light of the Commission’s changes to the draft final rule.

Requested Information and Comments  NRC is providing the below specific questions associated with the draft regulatory analysis (ADAMS Accession No. ML16189A050).  The questions will also be discussed at the public meeting.  The NRC staff will consider the responses to the questions as it revises the regulatory analysis.

  •   Is the NRC considering appropriate alternatives for the regulatory action described in the draft regulatory analysis?
  •   Are there additional factors that the NRC should consider in the regulatory action?  What are these factors?
  •   Is there additional information concerning regulatory impacts that the NRC should include in its regulatory analysis for this rulemaking?
  •   Are all costs and benefits properly addressed to determine the economic impact of the rulemaking alternatives?  What cost differences would be expected from moving from the discussed 1,000 year and 10,000 year compliance periods to a single 1,000 year compliance period? Are there any unintended consequences of making this revision?
  •   Are there any costs that should be assigned to those sites not planning to accept large quantities of depleted uranium for disposal in the future?
  •   Is NRC’s assumption that only two existing low-level radioactive waste sites (i.e., EnergySolutions’ Clive Utah disposal facility and Waste Control Specialists’ Texas disposal facility) plan to accept large quantities of depleted uranium for disposal in the future reasonable?
  •   What additional costs or cost savings, not already considered in the draft regulatory analysis, will the supplemental proposed rulemaking or alternatives cause to society, industry, and government?  What are the potential transfer (“pass- through”) costs to the waste generators and processors?

Submitting Comments  Comments are due by November 16, 2017.  Comments received after this date will be considered if it is practical to do so, but the NRC is able to assure consideration only for comments received on or before this date.  Interested stakeholders may submit comments by any of the following methods:

  •   Go to http://www.regulations.gov and search for Docket ID NRC-2011-0012.
  •   E-mail comments to Rulemaking.Comments@nrc.gov. If you do not receive an automatic e-mail reply confirming receipt, then contact us at 301-415-1677.
  •   Fax comments to Secretary, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission at 301- 415-1101.
  •   Mail comments to Secretary, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001, ATTN: Rulemakings and Adjudications Staff.

Docket ID NRC-2011-0012 should be referenced when submitting comments.

For additional information, please contact Gregory Trussell, Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, at (301) 415-6445 or at Gregory.Trussell@nrc.gov.

NRC Accepts Comments on Draft FY 2018-2022 Strategic Plan

On September 27, 2017, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced that the agency was seeking public comments on draft NUREG–1614, Volume 7, ‘‘Draft Strategic Plan: Fiscal Years 2018–2022.’’  The draft Strategic Plan provides the agency’s strategic goals and objectives and proposed strategies for achieving them.

In the Federal Register notice, NRC states that the agency “encourages and welcomes public comments that can help it respond to challenges and shape its strategic direction over the next four years, particularly comments on the plan’s goals, objectives, and strategies.”  (See 82 Federal Register 44,858 dated September 26, 2017.)

The Federal Register notice regarding the Draft FY 2018-2022 Strategic Plan can be found at https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2017-09-26/pdf/2017-20538.pdf.

The draft Strategic Plan is available in NRC’s Agencywide Documents Access and Management System (ADAMS) under Accession No. ML17254A104.

Overview  The NRC is an independent agency established by the Energy Reorganization Act of 1974 that began operations in 1975 as a successor to the Atomic Energy Commission.  The NRC’s mission is to license and regulate the nation’s civilian use of radioactive materials to provide reasonable assurance of adequate protection of public health and safety, as well as to promote the common defense and security and to protect the environment.

The draft Strategic Plan, covering the period Fiscal Years (FY) 2018–2022, describes how the NRC plans to achieve its two strategic goals:

  • ensure the safe use of radioactive materials; and
  • ensure the secure use of radioactive materials.

The draft establishes a framework for the next four years for the NRC to achieve its mission.  It also provides an overview of the NRC’s responsibilities, key challenges and management priorities, and it outlines the objectives and key activities to achieve the agency’s goals.

The draft plan is largely consistent with the previous plan (FY 2014-2022) with continued focus and commitment to the NRC’s mission and strategic goals of safety and security.  The most notable change is a new vision statement, which highlights the agency’s commitment to the Principles of Good Regulation.  It also includes minor updates and editorial enhancements.

Background  In accordance with the Government Performance and Results (GPRA) Modernization Act of 2010, agencies are required to submit their strategic plans to Congress the year following the start of a Presidential term.  The Commission has approved a draft Strategic Plan and is now seeking comments from the public so that the agency may benefit from a wide range of stakeholder input to help shape the NRC’s strategic direction for the upcoming planning period.

The NRC issued its first Strategic Plan in September 1997 and, as required, it has been updated every four years since then.  The 2018-2022 edition is due to Congress and the President by
February 5, 2018. 

For additional information, please contact Holly Harrington of the NRC at (301) 415-8200.

Utah Issues Licensing and Rulemaking Actions for Public Comment

Byproduct License Renewal and Source Material Distribution

During the last week of August 2017, the Utah Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control (DWMRC), announced that it is currently accepting public comment on the following licensing and rulemaking actions:

  • renewal of the EnergySolutions’ 11e.(2) byproduct radioactive materials license (UT2300478) for the licensee’s site near Clive (Tooele County), Utah; and,
  •   changes to the state’s radiation control rules to incorporate the federal regulatory changes promulgated by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) related to 10 CFR Parts 30, 40 and 70

In addition, on August 18, 2017, the DWMRC notified stakeholders that it had approved the final adoption of rule changes to incorporate the following into Title R315 of the Utah Administrative Code (UAC):

  •   the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) final Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule (HWGIR) as published on November 28, 2016 at 81 Federal Register 85,732;
  •   addition of a used oil generator as defined under Mixed Mode Transit System (NAICS code of 485111) to the list of used oil transporters considered to have a permit by rule to transport their own used oil to a permitted used oil recycler; and,
  •   selected corrections and clarifications.

Renewal of EnergySolutions’ 11e.(2) Byproduct Radioactive Materials License  On May 3, 2012, EnergySolutions submitted an application to the DWMRC Director to renew the Clive facility’s 11e.(2) byproduct radioactive materials license.  On August 16, 2017, the DWMRC commenced a forty-five day public comment period for the proposed licensing action.  The public comment period will end on October 2, 2017.

A public hearing will be scheduled if requested, by any citizen, by September 5, 2017.  If requested, the hearing will be held from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. on September 26, 2017.  The purpose of the public hearing, if held, will be to take comments from the public and to provide an opportunity for questions and answers relating to the renewal of the 11e.(2) license.

Written comments will be accepted if received by 5:00 p.m. on October 2, 2017.  Comments can sent by electronic mail to dwmrcpublic@utah.gov.  Comments sent in electronic format should be identified by putting the following in the subject line: Public Comment on EnergySolutions’ 11e.(2) license UT2300478 Renewal.  All documents included in comments should be submitted as ASCII (text) files or in pdf format.

The draft license and Technical Review and Environmental Assessment Report are available on the Division website at https://deq.utah.gov/NewsNotices/notices/waste/index.htm#phacp or by using EZ Records Search http://eqedocs.utah.gov/. 

For further information, please contact David Esser of the Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control at (801) 536-0079.

Changes to the State’s Radiation Control Rules to Incorporate Federal Regulatory Changes re 10 CFR Parts 30, 40 and 70  On May 29, 2013, the NRC adopted changes to 10 CFR Parts 30, 40, and 70.  These rule changes require the initial distribution of source material to exempt persons or to general licensees be explicitly authorized by a specific license, including new reporting requirements.  Changes to corresponding Utah radiation control rules are required to maintain regulatory compatibility with NRC rules and Utah’s status as an Agreement State with the NRC.

The rule is intended to provide timely information on the types and quantities of source material distributed for use either under exemption or by general licensees.  In addition, the rule modifies the existing possession and use requirements of the general license for small quantities of source material to better align the requirements with current health and safety standards.

The rule also revises, clarifies, or deletes certain source material exemptions from licensing to make the exemptions more risk informed.  This rule affects manufacturers and distributors of certain products and materials containing source material and certain persons using source material under a general license and under exemptions from licensing.

Comments may be submitted by email to dwmrcpublic@utah.gov.  The public comment period will end on September 15, 2017.

For additional information and the specific proposed rule changes, please see the August 15, 2017 issue (Volume 2017, Number 16) of the Utah State Bulletin at https://rules.utah.gov/publications/utah-state-bull/.

Final Adoption of Rule Changes to Incorporate Hazard Waste Generators Improvements Rule  The effective date for the final adoption of rule changes to, amongst other things, incorporate HWGIR became effective on August 31, 2017.

For additional information and the specific proposed rule changes, please see the June 1, 2017 issue (Volume 2017, Number 11) of the Utah State Bulletin at https://rules.utah.gov/publications/utah-state-bull/ or the DWMRC Board meeting packet for August 10, 2017 at https://utah.gov/pmn/files/319799.pdf. 

For additional information, please contact Rusty Lundberg, Deputy Director of the Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control at the Utah Department of Environmental Quality, at (801) 536-4257 or at rlundberg@utah.gov.

New Potential Regulations for Power Reactor Decommissioning

From May 8-10, 2017, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) held a public meeting to discuss the draft regulatory basis and preliminary draft regulatory analysis for a future regulation on decommissioning commercial nuclear power plants.  The meeting was held at the NRC’s headquarters in Rockville, Maryland.

Overview  On March 15, 2017, NRC published the draft regulatory basis for the rulemaking for public comment.  It describes several decommissioning issues to be addressed in the new regulation, as well as possible resolutions.  The rule would establish clear requirements for commercial power reactors transitioning to decommissioning.  The draft regulatory basis draws upon comments submitted in response to an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) that was published in November 2015.  A notice regarding the draft regulatory basis was published in the Federal Register later in March 2017, initiating a 90-day public comment period.  The preliminary draft regulatory analysis, which describes the costs and benefits of all approaches to resolving the issues, was published prior to the public meeting.

Public Meeting  During the public meeting, NRC staff members presented both the draft regulatory basis and the preliminary draft regulatory analysis with extended discussions of various subjects to be addressed in the rulemaking.  Members of the public were encouraged to ask questions and provide feedback, although the staff did not take formal public comment on either document at the meeting.  The following is a brief overview of the agenda topics for each day of the meeting: the current regulatory approach to decommissioning, the back-fit analysis of the proposed rulemaking, drug and alcohol testing and fatigue management; emergency preparedness, aging management, cyber security and physical security; decommissioning trust funds, onsite and offsite insurance indemnity agreements, and certified fuel handler training and minimum staffing; and, the preliminary draft regulatory analysis.

Staff Analysis  In the draft regulatory basis, the NRC staff concludes there is sufficient justification to proceed with rulemaking in the following areas: emergency preparedness; physical security; decommissioning trust funds; offsite and onsite financial protection requirements and indemnity agreements; and, application of the back-fit rule.  The staff suggests guidance, rather than rulemaking, should be used to address the following items: the role of state and local governments in the decommissioning process; the level of NRC review and approval of a licensee’s post-shutdown decommissioning activities report; and, whether to revise the 60-year limit for power reactor decommissioning.  The NRC staff is seeking additional public input before making recommendations on the following topics: cyber security; drug and alcohol testing; minimum staffing and training requirements for certified fuel handlers; aging management; and, fatigue management. That additional input, as well as comments received on the draft document, will be considered as the staff develops the final regulatory basis, which the NRC plans to publish in late 2017.  That document will be used in developing a proposed rule to be provided to the Commission in the spring of 2018.  The NRC staff expects to provide a draft final rule to the Commission in fall 2019.

Background  The NRC published an ANPR on the draft regulatory basis for a future power reactor decommission rule in November 2015, seeking public comment on a number of areas to be considered during the rulemaking process.  The NRC began a similar rulemaking process in 2000-2001, but stopped after a stronger focus on security was prompted by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.  However, five reactors have permanently shut down since the beginning of 2013, and three more are expected to cease operations by 2019.  The five reactors now undergoing decommissioning required several exemptions from NRC’s regulations for operating reactors to reflect their decommissioning status.  By incorporating changes into regulation, the NRC believes the transition from operation to decommissioning can become more efficient and effective for the agency and the licensee, as well as more open and transparent for the public.

For additional information, please contact David McIntyre of the NRC at (301) 415-8200.

Comment Opportunity re Category 3 Source Protection and Accountability

On January 9, 2017, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) published a notice in the Federal Register seeking input from licensees, Agreement States, and the public to inform the agency staff’s assessment of potential revisions to regulations or processes requiring Category 3 source protection and accountability.   Comments on the notice, which contains specific questions that NRC has developed to assist the agency in its analysis that are separated into sections based on the topics and applicability to relevant stakeholders, are due by the close of business on March 10, 2017.

“The NRC is committed to keeping the public informed and values public involvement in its assessment effort,” states the Federal Register notice.  “Responses to this solicitation will be considered by NRC in preparing a report to the Committees on Appropriations of the House of Representatives and the Senate, pursuant to Public Law 113– 235, Section 403 and will inform staff consideration of the regulatory impacts for any recommendations related to Category 3 source security and accountability, which will be documented in a paper to be provided to the Commission in August 2017.”

The notice further states that the NRC plans to hold three public meetings and two webinars during the public comment period for this action.  The first public meeting was held at the NRC headquarters in Rockville, Maryland on January 31, 2017.  The two other public meetings will be held outside of the Washington, DC area.  The webinars are scheduled for February 21, 2017 and March 2, 2017.  The public meetings and webinars will provide forums for the NRC staff to discuss the issues and questions with members of the public.  NRC plans to use the information received to develop a report to the Commission.

Overview

On October 18, 2016, NRC issued a Staff Requirements Memorandum (SRM) for COMJMB–16–0001 and directed NRC staff to take specific actions to evaluate whether it is necessary to revise NRC regulations or processes governing source protection and accountability.

Specifically, the Commission asked the staff to conduct an evaluation of, among other things, the pros and cons of different methods of requiring transferors of Category 3 quantities of radioactive material to verify the validity of a transferee’s license prior to transfer; the pros and cons of including Category 3 sources in the National Source Tracking System (NSTS); and, the risks posed by aggregation of Category 3 sources into Category 2 quantities.

As part of this evaluation, the NRC is seeking input from licensees, Agreement States, and the public to inform the staff’s assessment of potential revisions to regulations or processes requiring Category 3 source protection and accountability.

Comments

Interested stakeholders may submit comments by any of the following methods:

  •   Federal Rulemaking Website:  Go to http://www.regulations.gov and search for Docket ID NRC–2016–0276.
  •   Mail comments to: Cindy Bladey, Office of Administration, Mail Stop: OWFN–12–H08, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555–0001.

Interested stakeholders are requested to please include Docket ID NRC–2016– 0276 in any comment submission.  Comments are due by the close of business on March 10, 2017.

For additional information, please contact Irene Wu of the NRC’s Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards (NMSS) at (301) 415– 1951 or at Irene.Wu@nrc.gov.

NRC to Review WCS Application re Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage Facility

On January 26, 2017, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced that the agency has docketed and accepted for formal review an application from Waste Control Specialists (WCS) to build and operate a spent nuclear fuel Consolidated Interim Storage Facility (CISF) in Andrews, Texas.  The NRC’s decision follows an acceptance review to determine whether the application contains sufficient information for the agency to begin its formal review.

WCS is seeking to store 5,000 metric tons uranium of spent fuel received from commercial nuclear power reactors across the United States.

Overview

NRC’s review will proceed on two parallel tracks—one on safety issues and the other on environmental issues.  Both the safety and environmental reviews must be completed before the NRC makes a final licensing decision on the application.

In a letter to WCS dated January 26, 2017, the NRC set a schedule for its safety and environmental reviews.  The schedule sets a target of making a licensing decision by the third quarter of fiscal year 2019—assuming that WCS provides high-quality responses, on schedule, to any NRC requests for additional information.

Interested stakeholders will have 60 days from publication of a notice of docketing in the Federal Register, which will appear shortly, to submit requests for a hearing and petition to intervene in the licensing proceeding for the proposed facility.  Details on how to submit those requests and petitions will be in the Federal Register notice.

The NRC’s letter to WCS is available on the agency’s website at https://www.nrc.gov/docs/ML1701/ML17018A168.pdf.

Public Meetings

The NRC will hold the following two public meetings near the site of the proposed CISF to take public comments on the scope of the environmental review:

  • Hobbs, New Mexico:  Lea County Event Center (5101 N. Lovington Highway) from 7:00 – 10:00 p.m. MT on February 13, 2017
  • Andrews, Texas:  James Roberts Center (855 TX-176) from 7:00 – 10:00 p.m. CT on February 15, 2017

Stakeholders that are interested in attending or speaking are encouraged to pre-register by calling (301) 415- 6957 no later than three days prior to the scheduled meetings.  The public may also register in person at each meeting.  The time allowed for each speaker may be limited, depending on the number of registered speakers.

The NRC is also planning to hold additional scoping meetings at the agency’s headquarters in Rockville, Maryland during the week following the local meetings.  Details for these meetings are still being finalized.

Information about the public meetings will be posted to the NRC public meetings schedule on the agency’s website at www.nrc.gov.

Submitting Comments

Interested stakeholders can submit comments on the scope of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the CISF as follows:

  • Federal Rulemaking Website: Electronic provide comments at regulations.gov
  • Mail:  Send comments to Cindy Bladey, Office of Administration, Mail Stop: OWFN-12 H08, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001

Written comments should refer to Docket ID NRC-2016-0231.  The NRC will accept public comments through March 13, 2017.

Background

On April 28, 2016, WCS filed an application seeking a 40-year license for a CISF to receive spent fuel from nuclear reactors for storage, pending final disposal.  (See LLW Notes, May/June 2016, pp. 16-17.)  Specifically, WCS is requesting authorization to construct and operate a CISF at the company’s 60.3 square kilometer (14,900 acre) site in western Andrews County, Texas.  On this site, WCS currently operates facilities that process and store certain types of radioactive material—mainly low-level radioactive waste and mixed waste.  The facility also disposes of hazardous and toxic waste.

According to the application, WCS plans to construct the CISF in eight phases.  Phase one of the CISF would be designed to provide storage for up to 5,000 metric tons uranium (MTU) of spent nuclear fuel received from commercial nuclear power reactors across the United States.  WCS proposes that small amounts of mixed oxide spent fuels and Greater-Than-Class C (GTCC) low-level radioactive wastes also be stored at the CISF.  WCS stated that it would design each subsequent phase of the CISF to store up to an additional 5,000 MTU.  A total of up to 40,000 MTU would be stored at the site by the completion of the final phase.  Each phase would require NRC review and approval.

WCS would receive canisters containing spent nuclear fuel from the reactor sites.  Once accepted at the site, WCS would transfer them into onsite dry cask storage systems.  WCS plans to employ dry cask storage system technology that has been licensed by the NRC pursuant to 10 CFR Part 72 at various commercial nuclear reactors across the country.  According to WCS, the dry cask storage systems proposed for use at the CISF would be passive systems (i.e., not relying on any moving parts) and would provide physical protection, containment, nuclear criticality controls and radiation shielding required for the safe storage of the spent nuclear fuel.  WCS also states that the dry cask storage systems would be located on top of the concrete pads constructed at the CISF.

For additional information, please contact Maureen Conley of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission at (301) 415-8200.

Comments Sought re Proposed Medical Radioisotope Production Facility

On November 15, 2016, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced that the agency is seeking public comment on its Draft Environmental Impact Study of a medical radioisotope production facility proposed for Columbia, Missouri.

The study recommends a construction permit be issued to Northwest Medical Isotopes LLC, barring any safety issues identified in the agency’s ongoing technical review of the application.

Overview

The DEIS (NUREG-2209) documents the NRC staff’s environmental review of Northwest’s construction authorization application.  It examines the environmental impacts of construction, operation and decommissioning of the proposed facility, as well as the transportation and irradiation of uranium targets at research reactors.  It concludes the environmental impacts would be small and therefore not be significant enough to deny the construction permit.

On December 6, 2016, NRC staff held a public meeting in Columbia to present the draft study’s findings and receive public comment.  Agency staff members were on hand one hour before the meeting for informal discussions with members of the public.

Comments

NRC accepted comments on the DEIS at the public meeting on December 6, 2016.  Comments may also be submitted in writing online at www.regulations.gov using Docket ID NRC-2013-0235.  Comments will be accepted through December 29, 2016.  Additional information on the public meeting and how to submit comments was published in the Federal Register on November 9, 2016.

Background

In February 2015, Northwest submitted an application proposing to construct a facility to produce molybdenum-99 from low-enriched uranium.  Molybdenum-99 decays to technetium-99m, the most commonly used radioisotope in medicine.  Technetium-99m is used in 20 million to 25 million diagnostic procedures around the world each year, such as bone and organ scans to detect cancer, and cardiovascular imaging.  There are currently no molybdenum-99 production facilities in the United States, though the NRC has issued a construction authorization to SHINE Medical Technologies to build one in Janesville, Wisconsin.

For additional information, please contact David McIntyre of the NRC at (301) 415-8200.

Scoping Effort Initiated re Environmental Review of Proposed WCS Interim Spent Fuel Storage Facility

On November 14, 2016, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced that the agency is seeking comments from the public on the issues to be covered in the environmental review of an application from Waste Control Specialists LLC (WCS) to construct and operate a facility to store spent nuclear fuel in Andrews County, Texas.  The NRC will prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to document its evaluation of those impacts and is now taking public comments on the scope.

By letter dated July 21, 2016, WCS requested that NRC begin its EIS process as soon as possible.  In a response dated October 7, 2016, NRC agreed to WCS’ request because doing so will allow the agency to engage interested members of the public early in the process.  It will also provide additional time to consult with federal, tribal, state and local government agencies, facilitating compliance with the Endangered Species Act and the National Historic Preservation Act.  In addition, the environmental review will fulfill requirements in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to do an analysis of environmental impacts for major federal actions.  However, NRC’s decision to begin the EIS process early does not presuppose the outcome of its ongoing acceptance review of the WCS application.

The EIS prepared by the NRC staff will examine the potential environmental impacts of the proposed action.  The NRC staff will evaluate the potential impacts to various environmental resources, such as air quality, surface and ground water, transportation, geology and soils, and socioeconomics.  The EIS will analyze potential impacts of WCS’s proposed facility on historic and cultural resources and on threatened and endangered species.  Additionally, the economic, technical, and other benefits and costs of the proposed action and alternatives will be considered in the EIS.

If the application is accepted for a detailed technical review, the NRC staff will also conduct a safety review to determine WCS’s compliance with NRC’s regulations, including 10 CFR Part 20 and 10 CFR Part 72.  The NRC staff’s findings will be published in a Safety Evaluation Report.

The scoping period began on November 14, 2016.  If the WCS application is docketed, the scoping period will end 45 days after publication of a notice of docketing the application.

Written comments on the scope of the environmental review may be submitted via:

  •   the federal government’s rulemaking website at www.regulations.gov;
  •   email to WCS_CISF_EIS@nrc.gov; or,
  •   mail to Cindy Bladey, Office of Administration, Mail Stop: OWFN- 12 H08, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001.

Comments must be submitted by the closing date of the scoping period to ensure consideration.  Stakeholders should include Docket ID NRC-2016-0231 when submitting comments.

The ER submitted by WCS can be found on the NRC’s project-specific web page at http:// www.nrc.gov/waste/spent-fuel-storage/ cis/wcs/wcs-app-docs.html.  For additional information, please contact James Park, Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, at (301) 415– 6954 or at James.Park@nrc.gov.

Comments Sought re Utah’s Proposed New Hazardous Waste Rules

At its January 2016 meeting, the Utah Waste Management and Radiation Control Board (Board) authorized the following Hazardous Waste rules: R315-103, R315-124, R315-260, R315-261, R315-262, R315-263, R315-264, R315-265, R315-266, R315-268, R315-270, and R315-273 to be published in the Utah Bulletin and to commence a 30 day comment period.

The Board also approved the publication and commencement of public comment on the repeal of following rules: R315-1, R315-2, R315-3, R315-4, R315-5, R315-6, R315-7, R315-8, R315-9, R315-12, R315-13, R315-14, R315-16, and R315-50.

The comment period will begin on February 1, 2016.  Written comments on both of these proposals will be accepted if received by 5:00 p.m. MT on March 3, 2016. Written comments should be submitted to the following mailing address:

Scott T. Anderson, Director
Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control
Department of Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 144880
Salt Lake City, Utah 84114-4880

Comments can also be hand delivered and must be received by 5:00 p.m. MT on March 3, 2016. Hand-delivered comments should be submitted to the following address:

Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control
Multi Agency State Office Building
195 North 1950 West, 2nd Floor
Salt Lake City, Utah 84116

Comments can also be sent via electronic mail to swpublic@utah.gov.  Comments submitted via electronic format should be identified by putting, “Public Comment on Hazardous Waste Rules,” in the subject line. All documents included in comments should be submitted as ASCII (text) files or in pdf format.

An unofficial copy of the proposed hazardous waste rules will be made available on the Internet at http://www.deq.utah.gov/Laws_Rules/dshw/ProposedHWRules.htm.

For additional information, please contact Ralph Bohn of the Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control at (801) 536-0212.

NRC Seeks Comments re Contaminated Material and Contaminated Trash

In a Federal Register notice issued on January 20, 2016, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced that the agency is requesting comments on whether NRC staff should formally document a position on contaminated material and contaminated trash.

In February 2015, NRC issued Revision 1 of the Branch Technical Position on Concentration Averaging and Encapsulation (CA BTP). The CA BTP provides acceptable methods that can be used to perform concentration averaging of low-level radioactive waste for the purpose of determining its waste class for disposal. When the NRC issued the revised CA BTP, it noted that one issue, distinguishing contaminated materials from contaminated trash, may need further clarification. The NRC also stated that it would consider whether additional guidance, such as a Regulatory Issue Summary (RIS), would be warranted for distinguishing contaminated materials from contaminated trash.

Interested stakeholders are requested to submit comments by March 21, 2016. Comments received after this date will be considered if it is practical to do so, but NRC is able to ensure consideration only for comments received before this date.

The Federal Register notice includes a list of questions for which the NRC is requesting specific comments, as well as information on how to submit comments.

NRC’s request for comments can be found at 81 Federal Register 3,166 (January 20, 2016) via the following link: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2016-01-20/pdf/2016-00972.pdf.

For additional information, please contact Don Lowman, Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, at (301) 415– 5452 or at Donald.Lowman@nrc.gov.

Texas Compact Seeks Comment re Proposed Import Approval Approach

The Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Commission (Texas Compact Commission) is seeking comments on a proposed process for approving import applications for the disposal of low-level radioactive waste into the Compact Waste Facility that is operated by Waste Control Specialists LLC (WCS) and located in Andrews County, Texas.

Under the laws of the State of Texas, no more than 275,000 curies of low-level radioactive waste may be disposed at the Compact Waste Facility in a fiscal year. Therefore, the Texas Compact Commission is working to develop and institute an import prioritization process that would provide the maximum chance of curies being available for shipment to those generators that are able to ship to the Compact Waste Facility.

The Texas Compact Commission’s proposed concept paper, which is titled “A Process for Conditional Approval of Authorization to Dispose of Curies,” states as follows:

  1. Generally, the Commission will continue to enter into agreements with generators and brokers for importation of nonparty low-level radioactive waste for disposal (“Agreement”) in the Texas-Low Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Facility (“Facility”) that are effective on the date of approval by the Commission through August 31 (the last day of the Facility’s operational year). Generators and brokers may submit applications for future operational years, but those applications will be considered in light of this policy.
  1. Starting with the February 4, 2016 meeting, all Agreements to import and dispose of a total volume of waste that contains more than 2,000 Curies during an operational year will be entered on a conditional basis.
  1. The conditions that will be included in any Agreement to import and dispose of more than 2,000 Curies will include (but not be limited to):
  • A condition providing that no shipments may be made under the Agreement without further authorization from the Commission.
  • A condition requiring that no less than 15 days before a shipment is made under the Agreement, the Generator or Broker shall provide the Commission a written notice containing evidence satisfactory to the Commission that a shipment will be made on the date proposed in the notice and that it will contain a specifically identified number of Curies. It is acknowledged that weather or other unforeseen conditions may cause a nominal delay of shipment, but that delay shall not exceed 5 days, or a new condition removal letter will be required.
  • A condition providing that no shipment will be made until the Generator or Broker has received a written communication from the Commission that: (1) it has received the notice from the Generator or Broker; (2) it is satisfied that the shipment will be made on the proposed date and that it will contain the proposed number of Curies; and (3) the disposal of the waste listed in the notice will not cause the total number of Curies disposed at the Compact facility to exceed the maximum yearly allowances for that operating year.
  • A condition memorializing the understanding of the Generator or Broker that the Agreement is null and void and no further shipments can be made pursuant to the Agreement on or after the date during an operating year that the Facility has received low-level radioactive waste containing 275,000 Curies.

In addition to seeking comments on the overall proposed process, the Texas Compact Commission requests that stakeholders submit responses to the following questions:

  1. What is an appropriate threshold for issuing Curies conditionally? For import applications with Curie requests above the threshold, Curies would be issued conditionally by the Commission as opposed to the current practice of issuing them unconditionally. The proposed Concept Paper proposes 2,000 Curies as that limit.
  1. What would be appropriate documentation for demonstrating proof of a shipment is imminent? Is there a document that generators and brokers already use such that a new form would not need to be created and used? Are there good examples we could use should a new form need to be developed?
  1. How many days prior to a shipment are generators certain that the shipment will occur? The proposed Concept Paper proposes 15 days.
  1. How many days prior to a shipment are generators reasonably certain of the shipment’s Curie value?

Comments on the above questions and the proposed concept paper are due by January 25, 2016.

A cover letter with additional information and the proposed concept paper are available on the Texas Compact Commission’s web site at http://www.tllrwdcc.org/.

For additional information, please contact Texas Compact Commission Consulting Supervisory Director Leigh Ing at (512) 305-8941 or at leigh.ing@tllrwdcc.org.